Canadian student athletes who seek opportunities to become professional are moving to the United States because no Canadian organization can provide those opportunities.
According to a study from the University of Windsor, about 2,000 Canadian student-athletes move to the U.S each year to have a higher chance of becoming professional athletes.
Unlike in Europe, where athletes are not required to be enrolled in post-secondary school to become professionals, student athletes in the United States must belong to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for American athletes before pursuing their professional dreams.
“All (Canadian) players that I know of in the NBA have played in the NCAA,” said Alvin Wong, a basketball player for the University of Toronto.
In Canada, organizations like the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) and the University Sport (U Sports) focus more on the student athletes’ academic performance rather than on their athletic potential.
Although media exposure plays a big role within the NCAA’s system, coaches are also a big attraction for these upcoming student athletes.
“The coaching staff throughout all teams in the NCAA have a much higher level than Canadian coaches and hold players accountable to a much higher level of professionalism,” Wong said.
Centennial College men’s soccer coach Nico Koutroubis says that even though American sports have taken all the credit, Canadian athletics associations still have some hope.
“With more development into programs the OUAA and the CCAA could bring their athletics programs up to the standards that the NCAA holds at the moment” Koutroubis said.
“But it’s not just about program development, coaches, players and schools also need to be accountable for certain professional standards that are not as high as what they should be,” he said.
The American sports system is more respected by professional sports teams. Their system allows student athletes a gateway into becoming professional athletes and become aware of the standards that the industry they are part of hold.